Sheffield Beer Week: Noticing by Emma Inch
Emma Inch is a freelance beer writer, judge and broadcaster based in Brighton. She is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers and is the current British Beer Writer of the Year. Emma is also the founder and driving force behind Brighton & Hove Beer Week – a city-wide celebration of beer and brewing.
Cities crave art. Maybe it’s because those of us who live within them can’t always see the greens, blues and butter-yellows that nature chooses to shower elsewhere. Or perhaps it’s because the stark beauty of our unforgotten industry inspires us to reach out and paint those greys alight. But whether we’re brushing oil onto canvas, spray-painting brick walls, or tattooing our own flesh, we’re somehow driven to bring forth colour.
And that colour shines yet more vividly when it comes to beer. From the brewer’s palette of malt and hops to the label stretched across the cans we hold tight in our hands, art enters our city, then enters our bodies and leads us directly to a place where magic sometimes happens. But like all forms of art, a beer’s beauty goes beyond its physical appearance. It reaches from the made to the maker, the whole to its constituent parts, the meaning to the meant, and from the ending to the complete story.
…Noticing the fragile spring sunshine fall through the window and push its way through a full glass of beer; seeing it cast a warm lozenge of amber light across the rough surface of the pub table.
Because art is about noticing.
Noticing when the choices made by a brewer many weeks beforehand throw shadows forward through time. When she has trusted that the aroma will bloom, the bitterness will solidify, the malt sweetness will dance. When she has believed that the paint she has daubed will dry in precisely the way she imagined.
Noticing where the foam sits on top of your pint, and the uneven line of bubbles that holds it in place. Watching it stick and slip as it moves down the glass, seeing where it laces and how it sometimes slides to nothing.
Noticing the fragile spring sunshine fall through the window and push its way through a full glass of beer; seeing it cast a warm lozenge of amber light across the rough surface of the pub table.
And noticing that everything has changed, from the beer in your glass to the images on the pump clips; finding nothing is static. Those who may have been ignored or dismissed are reclaiming beer as their own and, in this diverse new landscape, the whole aesthetic is altered. This is a different age and it hails a brand-new modernity.
So, take some time to look around. Let the beer spill across your fingers as you lift the glass to your lips; steal its aromas, grasp the tingle of carbonation, and relish that bitter kick as it crosses the back of your tongue. Make sure you notice.
Because this is your city; your art; your beer. Own it. Enjoy it.